A daily record of gratitude; from quilting to photography to a mix of technology, books, movies and the musings of life!

Welcome to my Blog of my daily gratitude and photo of the day!

Since January 1, 2012, my goal is to write a daily sentence or two (or paragraph or two) about gratitude of the day and to include one photo (at least) that I took that day (but will add others from time to time). It has definitely been a challenge most days throughout the past eight years, and welcomed the challenge again this year - 2020 - Covid and all. I hope you will continue the ride with me!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A New Travel Companion

Though I love my Nashville travel companions and our adventures down South to pieces, this morning my "new" travel companion,Susie Stevenson, and I headed to Melbourne, Florida. We are here visiting our quilting friend, Mary Nielsen, and her husband, Steve, and Mary's Mom, Charlotte. First order of business was "techie teaching" in getting Blogger (no longer an IOS app- boo!) updated/deleted on all our devices to work properly once again.

It seems all three of us have been limping along with either not blogging (Susie - not since 2012!) and Mary, not since the end of January) or using go-arounds (me). I'm thankful to report all three of us are happily blogging once again!

BSoleille! The bright side of wearing sandals (and no socks) once again!


Monday, February 27, 2017

Can I Can Get an Amen

Since Sunday is a day of worship (and while in Nashville), my travel companions and I thought, why not start our day and visit The Mother Church of Country Music? Or otherwise known as the Ryman Auditorium. What a magical history this building (National Historic Landmark) has that brought to life so many legendary performers for over 100 years! This building was the first home of the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892, and later, The Grand Ole Opry radio show for 50 years. It was near demolition in the 1970's until the good folks of Nashville banded together to stave off the wrecking ball and preserve this wonderful and acoustically favorable venue.  Its truly the Soul of Nashville!

But what intrigued me more while learning about this historical place were two things: 1) large egos and the color of one's skin were checked at the door (when applicable due to the "laws of the day"), as it was all about the performance(s) and 2) a woman named Lula Naff, in 1904, (yes, nineteen hundred and four), began to book, promote, and manage the attractions coming into the auditorium. She actually used her initials "L.C." in an attempt to avoid female prejudice in a male-dominated industry, and wildly exceeded every one's expectations. I believe somewhere there can/should be a movie about her life and the stories she must have had with 50 years of being in the entertainment industry! Please consider a tour of the Ryman if ever in Nashville!

BSoleille! The bright side of true "Americana"


Photos from the Ryman Auditorium

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Falling in Love

...with the city of Nashville! Such a cool relaxed vibe here that is really infectious. The downtown area that offers a plethora of dining, entertainment and sports, and a lots of country music is all within walking distances to earn your fill. However, the Grand Ole Opry is about 12 miles out of the downtown area but still quite simple to find and enjoy.

Our day was packed and fun-filled starting with the Country Music Hall of Fame. Lots of cool items, facts and tidbits of the legends dating back 100 years to the superstars of today. I especially liked the gold and platinum records that graced the walls in the large halls, and the rotunda filled with plaques designating the Hall of Famers (performers) that have been invited to join the prestigious organization. It's a must do while in Nashville!

Son Ryan, ever the BBQ loving and finder of BBQ joints, did not fail us and directed us to Martin's BBQ Joint; that makes the South, and Tennessee particularly, a foodie legend. Yummy!

We then took a break from the music scene to cheer on the Washington Capitals at the Bridgestone Arena. Unfortunately, they lost 5-2 to the Nashville Predators, but it was fun touring around as a first time visitor to this arena. And as soon as the game ended, we zipped out quickly to get to our final destination/venue tonight: The Grand Ole Opry. We loved all the performers tonight, but especially CeCe Winans and Vince Gill! What talent! What a place! And the longest running radio broadcast since 1925....Great Show!


Photos from the day

Friday, February 24, 2017

Love That Country Music

A warm sunny day was the perfect backdrop for exploring Nashville and surrounding areas. We started the day at the Belle Meade Mansion in the West End, then headed to downtown where we strolled the streets taking in the sights, sounds and country music! A great meal at Puckett's got squeezed in smack dab in the middle of the day, and we ended our day at, what we thought, was a great venue in an intimate setting for up and coming country artists: The Listening Room. The $7 cover per person was well worth the money for an hour and a half show, and we were very impressed by the awesome talent and their music!

Interestingly, while stopping at the Ryman Auditorium Music Center (with the Little Big Town sold out concert tonight), the gift shop was open to anyone (still had to go through security). There I met a very nice young lady gift shop worker and chatted her up on some "off the beaten path" venues. She immediately suggested to go to the Listening Room, and that we wouldn't be disappointed. She was so right!

BSoleille! The bright side to have "listened" to this young lady granting us the serendipity "moment" of the day!

Photos from the day, plus the last one with Jenny Gill (Vince Gill's daughter and an awesome singer too!)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Good Report

We are thankful for the good report on Ryan's six week follow up appointment from Dr. Ord yesterday. He is feeling stronger every day, and has gained back most of the weight he lost since last May. All good signs of improvement for sure and we are thrilled on how far he has come on this crazy journey.

So a trip planned last year finally came to fruition today as we took Ryan to the home of country music: Nashville! But not only do we plan to see all the sights and melodic sounds of country music, the "jersey boy" sports nut has his eye on going to the Washington Capitals hockey game vs. Nashville Predators on Saturday afternoon. Every adventure will be new to each of us as it's our first time in this electric city!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017


In quilter's parlance, or at least my quilt guild's, SSS is short for "Secret Sewing Sister". All weekend long at retreat we leave little gifts of sewing items, food items and fabric (favorite colors!) to your randomly assigned sewing sister. The stealth part is quite a production since, ahem, some do not move from their machine much (I'm guilty!). Interestingly, my SSS left my gifts all over the building, and thankfully, other folks dropped off my little gift bags to my table, or told me that there is a bag with my name on it in the kitchen, or in my bedroom or somewhere (she is very clever!). I got the "message" and then maybe one or two at my machine....over the couple days.

The "big reveal" is on Sunday after we come back from lunch, and I really had no clue who was my SSS. Let me add I loved every item from my sewing sister; so without further adieu, a big hearty THANK YOU goes to Leslie Sumner! She nailed every item from "soup to nuts", and I can't wait to use my beautiful fabrics along with many of the other notions she gave me throughout the weekend!


Photo of my "SSS" Stash...

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The George Town Club

It is always exciting to go to a new local place that you've never been to before, and I am thankful to have that experience tonight at the George Town Club on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington D. C.  The event was a gathering of folks that have supported Dr. Aziza Shad through her work in Pediatric Oncology-Hematology through the years, and most notably, the work she has done for the last 18 months at The Herman & Walter Samuelson Children's Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore (a Lifebridge Health Center). Every child diagnosed with cancer is treated with grace and dignity under the loving care and direction of Dr. Shad and her staff, and the gathering was a "meeting of the minds" to continue this care, as well as bring new initiatives (like a Cancer Survivorship Program or Psycho-Social Services) in an already vibrant Department of Pediatrics at Sinai.

So, shouldn't every kid who needs medical care, some more than others, and world-wide to boot, receive great care? I think so, and it starts at the local level no matter where one lives. I am honored and humbled to get involved!


Photos of Ryan and Noah Grove along with other Young Adult Cancer Survivors!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Picking Up Where We Left Off

Do you have any "picking up where we left off" friends? If you do, it's one great gift of a lifetime friendship. My friend, Mary Jean, and I met on a summer track team when we were 15 years old. We lived on opposite sides of town in Cleveland, Ohio, but we enjoyed our summers together as we reconvened to run track for the Easy Striders Track Club! We became fast friends back then, spoke sparingly, but when we did get together we were a force to be reckoned with. When we graduated high school, we pursued higher education and ran cross-country/track at different universities, but kept in touch through letters and phone calls and when we were home on breaks, albeit, intermittently.

Years ago I realized that the constant in our friendship were  the quick conversations when both of us were available (MJ with 4 kids and me with 2) and "picking up where we left off",  pretty much during every single conversation we had. So when she called me last week to say she and her husband Bob were driving down from New York and driving an extra car for their son at UVA, and whether or not we could meet for lunch today, I jumped at the chance! And though it was a "short" visit, we picked up where we left off, this time including our husbands and my Ryan in our conversations. I am truly grateful for our friendship that has spanned four decades!

BSoleille! The bright side of "picking-up-where-you-left-off"!

Sunday, February 19, 2017


While on a quilt retreat weekend, you get to know your fellow quilters quite well, especially their style of quilting, favorite color choices, and the awesomeness of all their productivity, creativity, community, charity and even tranquility (we had message therapists Saturday and Sunday for those "needing" a message!). It's a whirl of activity all day long, and long into the night....(or at least we used to), to accomplish something, like a finished top, a water color painting, a men's shirt, or even a start of something new. It's an open slate to do whatever you want to do, and I am thankful for the time to devote to my passion with others who have the same passion(s) as me.

My photos today include productivity, creativity, community, and tranquility by my fellow retro retreaters....Painting by Barbara Alderman; quilt top components by Mary Nielsen, men's shirt by Karen Todd, bag parts by Carrie Casto and bag part/pool noodles, ahem, finished by Deb Hoppe, and candids of Carrie and Susie Stevenson and Misty Cole (my table partner) while working at her machine.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Soul Sister Sewing

The act of sewing, retro or not, is good for the soul. I am lucky to share the love of sewing with 24 other remarkable women from all walks of life on this "spring" retreat! I will admit that an "outsider" would look at us and think: "sweatshop", but we all think it's the greatest thing to sew for 15 hours....almost straight! We all work on our own projects for the most part, with a "zinger" thrown in for good "measure", like a mystery quilt (not this time) or a little bag (thanks, Mary Nielsen). Lots of laughter fills the room and we get more advice on anything and everything if you want it, sewing or otherwise....and I'm thankful for that!


Photos of the Retro Retreaters with our pearls, glasses, and cigarettes on the West River; my little bag, and shot of the beautiful scenery here in South Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Retro Retreat at West River

The "Real Housewives" of the Southern Comforters Quilt Guild commenced this afternoon at the  West River, Maryland Retreat Center for a weekend of fun and sewing....50's style. Our fearless leaders (retreat planners), Janet McCabe and Karen Todd amused the crowds with our welcome packets of cats-eyes reader glasses; lipstick (deep reds and pinks), cigarettes (the candy kind), pearls, and last but not least, a spool of thread! Listening to the 100 top hits from the 50's and 60's on top of 25 sewing machines running full speed ahead makes for an interesting combination of head boppin' and sing-a longs even if we are bit off-key to the "spinning tunes" (streaming through iTunes).

Thankfully, the food "served" at tonight's dinner (potluck) was contemporary fare, though some "longed" for jello molds, meatloaf, TV dinners and tuna noodle casserole!

BSoleille! The bright side of singing, dancing and sewing to the "oldies" - retro style...


Photo of Janet and Karen modeling our weekend accessories, and sunset on the West River.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Before the Bees Started Buzzing

I hosted my daytime bee yesterday, and we all had a delightful day. I did not blog yesterday, but if I did, this would have been the post. So why not do it one day later? Interestingly, before the first bee mate arrived at the hive, I had a few minutes of quiet time to really "see" our set up before the first machine was ever turned on or a stitch taken.  And for a quick minute, I became very thankful for the anticipated day of sewing, the friendships built on our love of sewing and quilting and how this all has weaved throughout each of our lives. With the first knock on the door, I was jolted out of my thoughts, and within 15 minutes, our machines sounded like bees a buzzing in a large hive!


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day 2017

My hope is that the entire universe who celebrates this day of LOVE had a great day! A treat to MOD pizza with my son and the Dynamic Duo (twins Bill/Don) capped off the day with a "build you own" za that was simply delicious (lots of roasted veggies for me). My flowers were bought over the weekend and I am thankful for their beauty and fairly long-lasting time in the vase. A song lyric by Bob Dylan graced the entrance to ordering at MOD, and I thought it would be perfect to post for this special day of love!


Monday, February 13, 2017

Red Carpet Event with Tracy's Kids

Tracy's Kids Red Carpet event is one of my favorite events, especially selecting one of the award winning and nominated movies of 2017 to view after the Courage Awards are presented in downtown Washington, D.C.  This event benefits art therapy programs for children with cancer in seven hospitals in five states and D. C. Art Therapy helps young cancer patients cope with the emotional stress and trauma imposed by cancer and all the treatment it entails!

This year's winners for the TK Courage Awards, presented to a public person who has worked to address the challenges of childhood cancer went to Second Lady, Karen Pence, and Senator Claire McCaskill. These courageous ladies have worked tirelessly in their respective states to bring about awareness and perspective to all types of cancer, including Childhood Cancer and Art Therapy in Indianapolis (Mrs. Pence). Let me add, both ladies were excellent speakers and champions of bringing awareness of Art Therapy programs in hospital settings nationwide!

The most difficult part of the evening is the deliberation on what movie to see. Thankfully, we have seen a few already, so we narrowed it down to Fences with Denzel Washington (Bill and I), and Hell  or High Water (Ryan).  Any movie is great with Denzel...

BSoleille! The bright side of: And the winner is.... ticking off another award nominated movie of 2017 with Tracy's Kids!


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Twin Time

Raise your hand if you ever hung around twins? If you have, you know the "twinning" thing they do (if they are good friends as well as twins, that is). They laugh the same, look the same, finish each other's sentences and they always have a built in "best friend". My husband Bill is an identical "mirrored" twin with brother Don. (Don is right handed and Bill is left handed). Through the many years I have known these two, there certainly have been some uncanny moments and unexplainable occasions of being a twin; like passing the same parts on the CPA exam with the exact same scores, earning a living in the same profession, and many more. I believe that is fairly typical with identical twins.

So if it is just the three of us doing something that involves driving in a car, you bet I am in the back seat while they talk a mile a minute to each other, finish each other's sentences and carry on like twins do. It's actually fun to sit back and watch their antics....and I'm thankful they have a close friendship and can banter with each other with zeal!

BSoleille! The bright side of hanging out with twins!

Photos of Bill and Don at their alma mater, Ohio University, this past weekend, and with me before a scoot around the Crofton Parkway this afternoon.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Craigslist Closet

The Crofton Levitt home we live in have no basements or attics (to store things) and storage space is at a premium. Everything we own is "right out in the open" for the most part. So the Ikea Pax Closet is a good way to go to maximize storage, and I turned to Craigslist to see if I could find one that would fit my intended space. Thankfully, I did find someone moving in two weeks and was selling the exact one I've been eyeing for the past three years from that big box store.

To pick up this unit, I first rented a cargo van and asked my friend Carrie Casto who good-naturedly said "yes", and came along to help with the whole endeavor. She is a whiz at Ikea furniture, so between the seller (Thom), Carrie and I, we did the "unthinkable" and dismantled the entire system, along with carrying each piece (some very large, like two huge glass doors), down a skinny wooden spiral staircase in downtown Alexandria, VA. Our biggest worry was not breaking the glass on the doors as we gingerly carried them down the stairs, or the glass windows on the staircase in Thom's house! 93" of door is a lot to consider while navigating down narrow hallways and stairs.

It will be awhile before everything gets installed in the intended space (room needs paint and flooring), but it will eventually get done and I look forward to the room's transformation! Thank You, Carrie!


Photos of Carrie, Thom and I after the van was packed and ready to transport it back to Crofton.